2007-04-22 Blog

The TechnoSocialGap

Blogging about Wikis: A cursed blessing

It seems that some of the small experiments that I have done with blogging about ObmWikiHive? were mostly successful in attracting spammers.

This is why I believe it’ll better for me in the long run to build ObmWikiHive? slowly, and socialy, rather than through publicity. The blogosphere is a good place to get lots of people to read these pages in short bursts. But, the trade off is that you then get spammers swarming on you for months afterwards. And, the blogging doesn’t really attract valuable participants.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve had the chance to be paid to launch and help grow some VirtualCommunity projects, and do some Wiki:CommunityBuilding using different SocialSoftware platforms, including different WikiEngine installations, such as SocialText, and DokuWiki, and MoinMoin. Plus, of course, launching ObmWikiHive? and KaboWikiHive?. Plus, I’ve worked with DrupalEngine, WikiCalc, Wiki:PloNe, and some non-open source platforms.

To be clear, what I am describing above is not just installing a site on a server and hoping that people will come along and use it. These are projects where there are people actively involved and interested in collaborating online, using text/audio/images and other media.

SilentBarrier

So, in that experience, I (SamRose) am finding that some elements of our WikiCulture that we incorporate into the OddMuse “interface”, plus UseModMarkup? can be a SilentBarrier? to participation for some people. Yet, and this is vey important, these same properties and patterns can be required elements for the participation of people who are immersed in WikiCulture. In fact, some of the InterWiki and WikiNet “functions” will not work unless you are using certain conventions, like CamelCase, etc. So, it is not possible to create easy InterWiki “links” between engines like DokuWiki and MediaWiki, and engines such as OddMuse and MoinMoin, for instance. This is causing the emergence of a TechnoSocialGap in the internet KnowledgeCommons?.

Emerging Ideas

WikiCreole

People have proposed and have begun to adopt WikiCreole as a standard WikiSyntax and markup. This can at least facilitate InterWiki connections. SocialSotware? and blogging platforms such as DrupalEngine and WordPress are starting to incorporate tools that allow for the import of WikiCreole marked-up content.

WikiCarburator

MattisManzel introduced some OddMuse -centric ideas in WikiCarburator, and AlexSchroeder added some thought there, about the pros and cons of emulating tools that allow for quick and easy contribution. One of Alex’s points was that emulating blogs in wiki can create force the conversation in wiki from NonLinear? to Linear. ArchitectureLeadsPeople?. People follow the lead of InformationArchitecture of SocialSoftware.

MattisManzel has been carrying out the WikiCarburator experiment on OddWiki, ObmWikiHive?, and elsewhere. It would be interesting to see him discuss an overview of what is evolving from it.

MicroContribution and RapidIdeaEntry

Ideas were also explored in MicroContribution (BayleShanks ?) and RapidIdeaEntry. The idea that “people should be able to make a small contribution to discussion or decision-making on an issue (rather than being forced to either contribute nothing or to pledge tons of time to it).”

There are drawbacks or pitfalls to this line of thinking, and some of them are addressed in MicroContribution (and by AlexSchroeder’s comment on WikiCarburator).

MicroContent and MicroBlock TransClusion

MicroContent is a sort of “shorthand” system HansWobbe is experimenting with. The pattern allows people to make quick note entries, that he refers to as a MicroBlock? of text, then TransClude?? those into different pages. “The MicroBlock?? should include its own Name (URL) so that it can be edited directly, regardless of of the document (context) within which it is found.”

InterWiki and InterSocialSoftware (OneBigSoup) KnowledgeCommons Evolution

From my experience (SamRose), there are some people who will not use wiki at all to participate in conversation and KnowledgeCommons? building. Wiki itself is a SilentBarrier? for these people. They often will use blogs, forums, social media sharing and SocialBookmarking, and SocialNetwork sites, however.

And, in my experience, there are some people who will use wiki, but will only use very simple wiki, like commercial offerings such as WetPaint? and WikiSpaces?. Or, they will only use MediaWiki or similar PHP wikis, for different reasons. Yet there are others who will only use Python or Perl based wikis for other reasons, such as traditional SocialPatterns? or programming language preferences.

One huge drawback is that these preferences are creating “silos” of OpenContent. The blogosphere is seperated by TechnoSocialGap from the WikiNet, and both are sperated from forums and SocialNetwork sites by a TechnoSocialGap. The “TechnoSocialGap” is literally a social gap that originates in technology.

I know that this issue has been addressed in many forms over the years in many wikis, such as OneBigSoup, and others.

MicroFormats

One of the promising emerging areas is MicroFormats, which can potentially allow data and information to transcend the TechnoSocialGap.

The best way to develop MicroFormats towards the goal of bridgign the TechnoSocialGap, is to try and bridge it right now with existing tools, and then think about how existing or yet-to-exist MicroFormats could enhance and facilitate that bridging even more.

Discussion

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